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Credit Cards AmEx Playing Games with New Gold Card?

Discussion in 'questions. answers. conversations.' started by JJ3, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. JJ3

    JJ3 Reader

    I obtained the new American Express Gold Card when it came out for the 4X points at U.S. restaurants. However, after having the card for a few days and using it at merchants where I typically buy lunch (and in the past earned 3X rewards on Chase Sapphire Reserve), it appears that American Express might be defining the "restaurant" category extremely restrictively, so that even merchants that are coded as "Restaurant" in the account activity do not receive the 4X bonus points. So far, the *only* merchant where I've been able to receive 4X points is Seamless Web, which is one of their partners for this card. No other "restaurant" merchant has qualified.

    In particular, the following are all merchants where I have received 3X points from Chase Sapphire Reserve, but all of these merchants show as only getting 1X points in account activity on AmEx:

    DoorDash — this service is similar to Seamless Web. AmEx codes their merchant category as Restaurant - Restaurant, but still shows only 1X points

    Ritual — a service that allows you to place advance take-out orders at cafes and take-out restaurants like sushi, Indian, etc. AmEx codes their merchant category as Restaurant - Bar & Cafe and gives only 1X points.

    Uber Eats — AmEx codes their merchant category as Transportation - Taxis & Coach

    I'm wondering if anyone actually has received 4X points on anything other than Seamless Web? Not getting 4X points on Uber Eats is understandable, but Door Dash is just like Seamless so it's a little crazy you would get 4X points on Seamless but not Door Dash (particularly given that the merchant category shows as identical on AmEx's system).

    I can kind of understand that merchants coded as "cafe" are not included, but that means that AmEx's new Gold Card is much less useful than the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which gives 3X points at all of the above merchants. A lot of merchants that you might think of as a "restaurant" (e.g., Indian restaurants, sushi bars) appear to be treated as cafes by AmEx and thus not eligible. It feels like a little bit of a gotcha game where I've already spent a few hundred on this new card and only get 4X points on a single transaction.
     
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  2. Tiffany

    Tiffany One Mile At A Time

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    I would keep an eye on it. I've noticed with my Platinum card that not all air travel transactions show as 5x immediately. By the time the statement closes it does. I'm not sure what part of their process causes the lag, but I wouldn't personally assume you won't get the bonus points just yet.

    Please keep us updated though!!
     
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  3. tadasu

    tadasu New Member

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    You won't be able to see your points bonus earnings until the statement closes. Given when the card refresh happenned I don't think anyone can really see the bonus earnings yet. You should wait until the statement closes to check
     
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  4. JJH

    JJH New Member

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    @Tiffany @tadasu -- Thanks, I am seeing some indications as to how the points will points when I go to account activity and click on "preview new version." The new version of the account activity shows points calculations for transactions that are at least 5-7 days old.

    So right now I am seeing that transactions at the following merchants DID earn 4X points:

    Wild Air — a wine bar and sit-down restaurant with table service
    Upstate — a sit-down restaurant with table service
    Seamless Web — an AmEx Gold Card partner and food delivery service
    Caviar — a food delivery service

    I can see that transactions at the following merchants did NOT earn 4X points (the account activity is showing that 1X points have been calculated):

    DoorDash — a food delivery service, very similar to Seamless Web
    Uber Eats — a food delivery service, very similar to Caviar
    Ritual — an app that lets you preorder food or coffee at fast-casual restaurants
    La Colombe — a coffee shop

    Note that I made the purchases above that did NOT earn 4X points *before* the purchases listed above that DID earn 4X points, so it seems unlikely that it's a processing delay as AmEx has already calculated 4X points to the subsequent purchased.

    I understand why Uber Eats does get 4X points; that codes in AmEx's system as "transportation," presumably due to the affiliation with Uber, so it's easy enough to just use my Chase Sapphire Reserve there. Ritual says, "Category: Restaurant - Bar & Café," so perhaps any merchant coded as "Bar & Cafe" is excluded with AmEx, even though those same merchants are eligible for 3X points with Chase Sapphire Reserve. But DoorDash and La Colombe both code with AmEx as: "Category: Restaurant - Restaurant." So it's hard to understand why those would be excluded, given that AmEx itself is defining them as a restaurant.

    It says my statement will close on October 26, so I'll definitely keep an eye on it and let you know if some of the transactions that currently show as 1X points later change to 4X points. But so far it certainly seems like two things are likely: (1) AmEx has a much more restrictive definition of "restaurant" than Chase. I get 3X points on all the merchants listed above with Chase Sapphire Reserve, but obviously there's some with AmEx that seem not to be getting the points. (2) It's very difficult to predict which merchants AmEx will honor with 4X points, because even merchants they code as "Restaurant - Restaurant" are showing as 1X points.
     
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    Gia and Tiffany like this.
  5. tadasu

    tadasu New Member

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    my experience has been that AMEX would not give bonus points if the payment is processed by Square. So if the merchant uses Square to process payments, you are out of luck. This is only my guess so YMMV. So far based on "preview new version" I'm getting the 4x bonus at the same places I used to get the 2x bonus so nothing really seems to have changed
     
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  6. JJH

    JJH New Member

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    @tadasu -- Yes, I assume you are right that AmEx hasn't changed which merchants qualify for bonus points. However, my point is that, for those of us who are coming over from Chase Sapphire Reserve (which used to have the highest number of bonus points for restaurants), it's more difficult to qualify for bonus points under American Express rules than under Chase rules. I'm not sure if there's a good place where someone has collected major restaurant merchants that qualify with Chase for bonus points but do not qualify under American Express, but that would be useful.

    Obviously this affects the value proposition of the card. For those of us who have lots of restaurant spending but already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you actually would earn the same number of points charging your "restaurant" spend to American Express as you would with Chase, if one third of your "restaurant" charges qualify with Chase but do not qualify with American Express. For example if you spend $3,000 per month on your Chase card and all of that qualify for 3X points, but when you move to American Express, two thirds of your $3,000 qualifies for 4X points and one third does not qualify for any bonus, you'd actually end up with the same number of points with American Express as you would with Chase. (You'd get 3,000*3x = 9000 with Chase, versus 2,000*4x + 1,000*1x = 9000 with American Express.) Thus, in that scenario, there would be no benefit to paying an additional annual fee, if you got the card for restaurant spend.

    Obviously, if you can figure out which restaurant merchants will qualify for bonus points with American Express and charge *only* those merchants, you could still come out ahead. But it seems like even some merchants that you would think would qualify don't. So there's potentially a lot of complexity. It does raise the question of whether the American Express Gold Card would be worth it for someone with a decent chunk of restaurant spend but who (like me) already has the American Express Platinum Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. For those people only the restaurant category (and supermarkets, a category I personally don't use) are incremental benefits. But American Express only gives bonus points for U.S. restaurants, and now seemingly, a lot of places don't qualify.

    In my case I spend enough on restaurants that it might still be worth it to use the Gold Card because I can set up merchants like Door Dash and Ritual with the Chase card. But it's making the math closer for me, since I generally want an incremental benefit of more than 300 per year to hold an additional card. (I don't like to bother with an a new card if I only end up with, say, $250 of incremental value beyond what I could get with fewer cards.) I *think* I will still clear that threshold with AmEx Gold but it could end up being a lot closer than i was expecting.
     
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